Express Rebound From Walk-Off Loss With Walk-Off Win Over Honkers
Just one night after being on the receiving end of a walk-off fielder’s choice in Waterloo, the Express (4-5) bounced back in the best way possible Wednesday night. Snapping a three-game losing skid with a walk off win of their own over the Rochester Honkers (3-6).
Following back-to-back singles courtesy of Ty Greene and Nic Ready to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Justin Evans laid down a sac bunt that forced a throwing error by Rochester third baseman Ethan Ibarra, allowing Greene to score from second to seal the 4-3 walk off victory.
Travis Berg began the night on the bump for Eau Claire, but wouldn’t last long, hitting the showers early due to pitch count restrictions. Throwing 36 pitches in the third inning forced Berg to exit the game in the fourth, with Northwoods League rules stating a pitcher cannot start the next frame after throwing 35 or more pitches in the inning before.
With Berg out, Drew Gillespie stepped up in a major way in his Express debut, tossing five scoreless innings with six strikeouts and just four surrendered hits before handing the ball to Victor Chavez in the ninth. For his efforts, Gillespie received a no decision, but was named Player of the Game by the Carson Park press box.
Dale Varsho’s squad rolled out a total of four new players in Wednesday night’s win, with Zach Ashford, Beau Capanna, Ty Greene and Gillespie all making their first appearances in an Eau Claire uniform. The influx of fresh blood into the lineup proved to be the difference maker for the Express, with Greene and Gillespie arguably having the most impact of anyone on the game’s thrilling outcome.
This was the first contest of the season in which Eau Claire was able to field a lineup of nine actual position players. While the early-season roster limitations have been tough on the team through their first eight games, tonight’s victory offered the first glimpse into the actual makeup of this 2017 Express squad.
Eau Claire will hit the road for Rochester for the second leg of this home-and-home series with the Honkers. North Dakota State Freshman Riley Johnson will get the start for the Express, coming off a dazzling seven-strikeout debut in Willmar last week.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 170 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.eauclaireexpress.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Express as your favorite team.